Mayor Delivers Patriotic Speech at Memorial Day Event

May 27, 2013

Memorial Day means so many things to so many different people. To some, it's about the unofficial beginning of summer, to some it's about a day off from work, going shopping, going to the beach or golfing or you name it.

Let us renew our faith and our hope. We have every right to dream heroic dreams.

I've stood here before, talking about our flag and our freedoms, holding this copy of our Constitution...proclaiming that without our Patriots, the Constitution would not be worth the paper it is written on. That our flag might not be our flag and flying like it is today. Our FREEDOMS are not FREE. Our FREEDOMS have been costly.

Freedom of Religion, we do not owe to the Preacher Man, BUT TO THE PATRIOT.

Freedom of the Press, not to the Reporter, BUT TO THE PATRIOT.

Freedom of Speech, not to the Poet, BUT TO THE PATRIOT.

Right to a Fair Trial, not to the Lawyer, BUT TO THE PATRIOT.

Right to Vote or to Self-Govern, not to the Politician, but to many patriots, many that are in Washington, D.C...a place that has many monuments. One to a monumental man...George Washington, father of our country, a man of humility who came to greatness reluctantly. Another, the stately memorial to Thomas Jefferson. We all know his role with the Declaration of Independence. Then beyond the Reflecting Pool, you have the Lincoln Memorial.

You might ask...where is he taking us? Where is he going with this? I'm taking you across the Potomac River and I'm leading you to Arlington County, Virginia. Arlington National Cemetery, with its rows of simple white markers, some bearing crosses, others, Stars of David. They add up to only a fraction of the price that has been paid for our freedom.

FREEDOM IS NOT FREE! Freedom is costly. That has been proven. Each one of those markers is a testament to our American Way of Life paid for by our heroic patriots. In places like Belleau Wood, the Argonne Forest, Omaha Beach, halfway around the world on Guadalcanal, Tarawa, Pork Chop Hill, Hamburger Hill and in a hundred rice paddies and jungles of a place called Vietnam. Moving forward to the Gulf War, Desert Shield, Desert Storm, Operation Iraqi Freedom, Enduring Freedom and many more operations in-between and since then.

Under one of these markers, lies a young man, Martin Treptow. Martin was with the WWI famed Rainbow Division. On his body was found a diary Martin had written.

"America must win this war. Therefore, I will work, I will save, I will sacrifice, I will endure, I will fight cheerfully and do my utmost as if the issue of the whole struggle depended on me alone."

I know there are many, many more documented reminders of sacrifice for our country and for our freedoms. So, let freedom ring, but may we all be reminded that FREEDOM IS NOT FREE.

May we also be reminded by the Red Poppies. We wear these to honor those who died serving our nation during war.

I would like to leave you with a poem from 1915.

We cherish too the Poppy red,
That grows on the field where valor led,
It seems to signal to the skies,
That blood of heroes never dies.

Traditional observance of Memorial Day has diminished that is why the National Moment of Remembrance was passed which asks that at 3PM all Americans observe in their own way remember and respect those Americans who died while defending our nation and its values.

I will, again, today at 3PM, remember them, but it is my honor to be with you here today, but I remind you we cannot realize our heroic dreams without the cost being paid for by heroes.

Thank you.

Mayor Gillespie holding the Constitution of the United States while standing with local heroes that served our great nation proudly.

Senator Bryan Taylor, also a veteran of the U.S. Army JAG Corps and a current member of the Alabama National Guard, joined us for this important service honoring our veterans.

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